27 Oct 2012

Lawyer hails non-custodial term for baby kidnapper

6:10 am on 27 October 2012

The lawyer representing a woman who kidnapped a newborn baby says it's a great signal to society that the judge did not jail her.

In the High Court at Auckland on Friday, Neha Narayan was sentenced to two years' intensive supervision and 200 hours' community work for taking the child from Middlemore Hospital in south Auckland in January.

She was also banned from having contact with babies or young children and must undergo psychotherapy and drug and alcohol assessment.

Her lawyer, Ron Mansfield, says the psychotherapy is important.

"The main priority," he says, "is getting this young woman well so there is no risk of further offending for anyone - including offending on herself.

"We need to look after people who are unwell and we don 't need to ostracise them or simply stick them in prison."

Partner deceived by birth story

The court heard Narayan had suffered a miscarriage six months before she abducted the baby, but had not told her partner.

He dropped her at Middlemore Hospital when she said she was ready to give birth, and met her in the carpark afterwards to collect - as he understood it - her and the baby.

They were stopped in the carpark by nurses who had realised Narayan had kidnapped the infant.

In a victim impact statement read out to the court, the child's mother says realising her baby had been taken was the worst feeling imaginable and she still struggles to trust people around her child.

She says she'd heard of baby kidnappings in India, her home country, but would never have expected it to happen in New Zealand.

The community work sentence will be delayed for nine months so Narayan can continue to get treatment for mental illness.